Media Studies department puts a spotlight on viral videos

Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter

Viral videos have been a staple of the internet since the popular website Youtube began, and since then millions upon millions of people have spent endless hours watching them. Viral videos can range from quick snippets of someone getting hurt, funny cartoons or even silly cat videos.

This past Wednesday, Southern’s Media Studies department held their first annual Viral Video Contest in the Farnham Programming Space. The competition not only acted as a fun event for students, but also as an introduction to students to the Media Studies department at Southern. Professor Wesley O’Brien, chairperson of the Media Studies department, hosted the event.

“This event is being hosted by the Media Studies department and is meant to not only let students have a fun time, but to also introduce them to the department,” said O’Brien, “And, what better way to do that than to show them something in media they are all familiar with?”

The way the contest worked was that students who went to visit the competition were able to write down any number of viral video’s they thought were the “best” and the most enjoyable.

Following that, names were pulled out in three rounds of five, and the winner of each round was awarded a $10 Amazon gift card. At the end of all of the rounds, a final lot was drawn from all the selected videos of the rounds for a grand prize of $50.

For the topic of what exactly is a viral video, ideas can vary on the person spoken to.  Daniel Emmans, a sophomore, finds that a viral video is a video that keeps you laughing.

“I don’t know, I think a viral video is something that is just funny to watch, share with friends,” Emmans said, “The ones I picked are pretty funny, little explicit, but I think it’s the humor which makes them so entertaining.”

During the competition, many of the videos shown did have the audience laughing, or either pensive in thought, but according to senior Ryan Meyer, there is more to a viral video than just laughs. According to Meyer, there is also some communal appreciation of a video or media that makes it viral.

“Yeah, viral videos are always funny in some way or form, and I think that is what initially gets people,” said Meyer. “There is also some level of sharing that needs to happen for a video to be viral. It needs to be something you can share with friends and mention it in conversation.”

In regards to the videos that he picked for the competition, Meyer relied on his philosophy behind viral videos for his selection, as well as his history with it.

“One of the ones I picked was the dramatic chipmunk video, it’s only about six seconds long, but it’s one of the most famous I know,” said Meyer. “It’s like how I said a viral video can be shared between friends, you can drop “dramatic chipmunk” into a conversation either just saying the title, or acting it out and not only will people know what you are talking about, but they might also join in.”

At the end of the competition and after all the winners had their prizes, O’Brien thanked all who came and looked forward to future iterations of the competition in the coming years.

Photo Credit: Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter


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